Richard Misrach: Chronologies

Richard Misrach is among the most influential, prolific and internationally recognized photographers working today. Best known for his epic ongoing project, Desert Cantos—an extensive and unique photographic exploration of place—Misrach consistently addresses political and social issues through the adaptation of different photographic strategies, even as he expands notions of traditional landscape practice, and builds a complex and poignant document of American culture. His subjects have included man-made floods and fires, military bombing ranges, mass graves of dead animals, sublime night skies and details of paintings housed in the museums of the Southwest. In one recent series, On the Beach—which was inspired by Nevil Shute’s post-apocalyptic novel of the 1950s—Misrach’s color photographs deal with the human figure seen at a distance on an unspecified beach or in the water, observed from an unsettling and difficult-to-identify point of view located high above. Misrach’s newest publication, Chronologies is a compelling study of the photographer’s process over the past 30 years. Stripped of their original context, the photographs—presented in chronological order—illuminate how the photographer thinks and works. Through fits and starts, reiterations and detours, the work evolves and matures, weaving in and out of the series for which Misrach has become known. Side-by-side, classic images and never-before-seen pictures flesh out the photographer’s logic and complicate it at the same time. Ultimately, Chronologies is about time: The span of 30 years, the importance of time in each photograph, the chronology of a life within its time, and the book itself as a timepiece.